Delivery-Related Infant Deaths Decline in Scotland

TUESDAY Aug. 11, 2009 -- Since the late 1980s, there's been a nearly 40 percent drop in the risk for delivery-related death at birth or shortly thereafter for full-term infants in Scotland, new research has found.

The major factor in the decrease is a reduction in the number of deaths caused by a lack of oxygen for the baby, called intrapartum anoxia, during the birth process, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge in England.

They analyzed data from more than 1 million births in Scotland between 1988 and 2007 and found that, in absolute terms, the risk for delivery-related perinatal death (right after birth) was 7.1 per 10,000 births. The incidence of death related to intrapartum anoxia was 4.3 per 10,000 births, while the incidence of death from other causes was 2.8 per 10,000 births.

The researchers also found that the risk for delivery-related perinatal death decreased 38 percent (from 8.8 to 5.5 deaths per 10,000 births) between 1988 and 2007. During that time, the incidence of death attributed to intrapartum anoxia decreased 48 percent, from 5.7 to 3.0 deaths per 10,000 births.

"The key finding of our analysis is that rates of death ascribed to intrapartum anoxia in term infants declined in Scotland between 1988 and 2007," the researchers wrote. "The pattern of the decline suggests that this was primarily due to a reduced number of severely anoxic infants rather than improved neonatal resuscitation. The change was paralleled by increased rates of cesarean delivery, but there is no direct evidence supporting a causal association between the two trends."

The study appears in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The Maternal & Child Health Library at Georgetown University has more about infant mortality and pregnancy loss.

Posted: August 2009


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